Review: “Talk to Me” is Flatliners meets Event Horizon; Australian Party Edition

Review: “Talk to Me” is Flatliners meets Event Horizon; Australian Party Edition

There are a few constants in the current landscape of theatrically released films.

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The two major points seem to be that; one, only horror films can pique audience interests for films that are not Marvel, Barbie, or Oppenheimer. Two, moviegoers go crazy for anything released through A24. Talk to Me checks both of those boxes. With plenty of buzz built up from positive film festival showings, along with a fair amount of fervor built up by a cavalcade of fan preview screenings, Talk to Me seems poised to make a mark upon it’s upcoming release.

Mia (Sophie Wilde) is still in a mourning phase two years after her mother’s death by apparent suicide. On the anniversary night of her mother’s passing, Mia is desperate to get away from the pain and awkwardness between her and her father, Max (Marcus Johnson).

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She plans to spend the night at her friend Jade’s (Alexandra Jensen) house. But Jade has plans to go to a party to be with her boyfriend, Daniel (Otis Dhanji)–who happens to be Mia’s ex.

Even though Mia is not the best of friend’s with those throwing this party, she tags along to try and forget the memories she is fighting with. The reason everyone is heading to this party in the first place though, is because the host seemingly have a mysterious relic that has some mystical powers. In an attempt to be part of the gang, Mia volunteers to be that night’s first subject to use a creepy hand in what seems like a childish game. But once she tries it, she gets hooked, and things get out of hand when set boundaries are broken.

Talk to Me is already being hailed as some glorious return to an age of horror that has somehow been lost, before it has even come out. While it can have some effective scenes and one graphically gory set piece that burst out of nowhere, Talk to Me seems lost in what it wants to be. It’s not a brand new phenomenon in the world of horror, but recent hits and even some failures lean heavily on mental health allegories to hit their audiences on multiple levels.

However, where other films (again, not always great) find ways to fully tie their plots to their themes, Talk to Me falls short of deciding which film it wants to be. The connection to Mia’s state of mind and that of her mother are well explored enough, but the consequences and actions of the finale don’t fully connect. It all adds up to an unfulfilling emotional climax, while succeeding in an atmospheric (yet highly predictable) final few moments.

Early foreshadowing works more as an existential Chekhov’s gun that felt like an attempt to be more deep and consequential than it actual is. The rules and expectations of the ritual surrounding the hand at the center of the film are very loose and at times, confusing.

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While the situations the audience are privy to seeing are just a handful of possible confrontations, they paint a specific picture that can be deemed contradictory by the (once again) very predictable ending.

If we’re getting specific, the title itself is trying to cross the roads of the words needed to start the seance like ritual and the actions Mia and Max are avoiding till it is too late. But in reality, though the words “talk to me” are important to the procedure…it needs to be followed by, “I let you in,” to make the real magic happen. If you take out the latter and most important part, the major parts of the movie don’t happen. Another case of all the puzzle pieces not fully connecting.

There is a very brilliant real life depiction of a certain aspect of depression that I don’t think I’ve ever seen illustrated in major mainstream entertainment before. Not that anyone can put words in the mouths of everyone that has ever felt like taking their life due to depression or any similar mental illness, it paints a different and what I believe to be more accurate answer to why some people decide to finally take that final step. I won’t speak to the specifics here as not to ruin it for those who haven’t seen the movie yet, but it comes in the specifics of “the note.”

Even though it may seem like a fresh and new idea, Talk to Me is very much a slightly different version of Flatliners (the 1990 version) tweaked with the hell visions of Event Horizon. Is it some revitalization of a niche horror genre that it is being made out to be? Not by a mile. But that doesn’t mean Talk to Me is not worth your time.

Final Grade: B-

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